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The number of women giving birth by cesarean section has increased sharply over time, with reporting that more than a quarter of today’s American babies are now born in this manner. If you are among those who have C-sections as opposed to traditional vaginal births, it is important that you understand the unique risks associated with doing so, both for you and your baby.

Often, women do not know that they are to have C-section deliveries until something goes wrong in the traditional delivery process, but understanding the risks beforehand can help you make informed last-minute decisions should the need arise.

C-section risks for the mother

If you deliver your child via a C-section, you are likely to spend more time in the hospital following delivery than you might otherwise. You are also more likely to have to undergo additional surgeries, as most physicians recommend that mothers who give birth through this method continue to do the same for any additional children they have.

You also have a higher risk of developing adhesions or suffering injury to one of your organs because of your procedure, and your risk of significant blood loss also increases. Infections are also possible during this and virtually any surgery, and they may occur in your incision site, within your uterus or elsewhere within your body.

C-section risks for the baby

Babies born via C-section also face unique risks. These infants are more likely to have breathing and respiratory problems than those born vaginally, and they are also more likely to have lower birth rates and APGAR scores, which assess the overall health of the infant immediately after birth.

Babies delivered via C-section also may experience fetal injury, such as a cut or nick to the face and body, when the surgeon makes his or her incision, although such injuries are relatively rare.

Not all women who deliver their children via C-section must continue to do so for subsequent births, but many doctors do advise doing so. Find out your options, understand the risks and make an educated decision about what is right for you and your family.